UCLA Health is one of 75 sites around the globe participating in a clinical trial sponsored by the National Institutes of Health to test the effectiveness of a candidate antiviral drug against COVID-19.

The drug, called remdesivir, was originally developed as a treatment for Ebola. Although it was found to be safe, it was not effective in treating patients with the disease. In laboratory tests, however, it appears to work against the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19, which has raised hope that it may be effective against the coronavirus that has swept the globe, sickening and killing thousands.

The clinical trial was launched by the NIH’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. 

Dr. Otto Yang, a professor of medicine in the division of infectious diseases at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, is leading the UCLA trial with substantial support from the UCLA Clinical and Translational Science Institute.

“Remdesivir is a drug that has good activity against the virus in lab experiments, and it seems to effectively treat similar viruses in animals,” said Yang, who is also a professor of microbiology, immunology & molecular genetics at the Geffen School. We don’t know yet whether it is effective in humans with COVID-19, so it is undergoing clinical tests in patients.

Read the full news release.